Academically, Girls Out-Perform Boys in 70% of the World

Girl and boy reading in classroom

A recent study showed that girls generally out-perform boys in school.
Image: Shutterstock

Numerous studies and articles have assumed that boys out-perform girls in academic areas like math and science, but according to a new study by researchers from the University of Missouri and the University of Glasgow, girls actually out-perform boys in all academic areas in 70% of the countries they studied.

Their study looked at around 1.5 million 15-year-old students, based on data collected between 2000 and 2010, and in 70% of the locations studied, the girls out-performed the boys by that point. Only three places–Colombia, Costa Rica, and the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh–found the opposite to be true, and performances were close in some economically developed nations like the United States and United Kingdom. But otherwise, regardless of the level of gender, social, or economic equality in the places studied, girls did better in school.

This data has some interesting things to say about education. Namely, it tells us that access to education doesn’t necessarily do much about the “gender gap” therein. It also tells us that the gap isn’t increasing, which is good, and, for those who weren’t aware, that girls are leading that gap. But we do need to figure out how to address that gap and find ways to help boys perform as well as girls, academically.

With girls out-performing boys across the board, though, we should also be asking how to make sure girls get the most out of their education. Certain fields, like computer science, have low numbers of women involved at the professional level, and many people in technology industries have been wondering how to get–and keep–women interested and involved in those fields. It stands to reason that, if girls are so consistently out-performing boys academically, if they were to enter fields where they’re underrepresented, they might be able to do even more for those fields than their male peers.


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